Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 June 2019

Liberty House eyes steel and aluminium assets in the UAE

The conglomerate also wants to snap up assets in India, US and Europe

Parent company Liberty House, which is part of the GFG Alliance owned by British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta, is expanding aggressively in the steel and aluminium business from India to Luxembourg. Courtesy: Liberty House
Parent company Liberty House, which is part of the GFG Alliance owned by British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta, is expanding aggressively in the steel and aluminium business from India to Luxembourg. Courtesy: Liberty House

Liberty House, a privately-owned British industrial conglomerate with $15 billion (Dh55.09bn) in revenues, is in talks to snap up steel and aluminium assets in the UAE as it looks to expand its Middle East presence, a company official said.

“We are significantly advanced on two particular acquisitions and hope to make some announcement in the next year,” said Douglas Dawson, the chief executive of Liberty House Industries, a unit of the parent company. “We are keen to establish our industrial presence in the Middle East and what we are really doing in many ways is replicating our global strategy.”

Parent company Liberty House, which is part of the GFG Alliance owned by British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta, operates in over 30 countries. The London conglomerate is expanding aggressively in the steel and aluminium business from India to Luxembourg. In November, the company agreed to acquire three steel plants from ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel producer - two in Belgium and one in Luxembourg. In October, it agreed to further buy four steel facilities from ArcelorMittal in Romania, Czech Republic, Macedonia and Italy.

In November, the company completed the purchase of a French smelter, Aluminium Dunkerque, which is Europe’s biggest producer of lightweight metal from Anglo-Australian company Rio Tinto.

In 2017, Liberty acquired a speciality steel operation from Tata Steel UK, a unit of India's Tata Steel. It also has facilities in Australia and the United States.

Liberty House Industries expects its revenue to grow up to 20 per cent next year in the region if the acquisition in the UAE is finalised, said Mr Dawson.

“Despite some market challenges around the region, we have shown good growth in 2018 and we are looking at further growth in 2019,” he said. “The UAE is an area where we can see sustainable growth for the long-term and that is what drives us as an organisation.”

Liberty House Industries is already boosting the range of products it sells in the UAE, where it supplies materials to the expansion of Al Maktoum International Airport and Dubai Metro.

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“We think Expo 2020 is going to be a spring board for the region,” Mr Dawson added.

Most of their products are used in the oil and gas industries and construction in the region.

Liberty House Industries, whose biggest markets are Australia and Europe, is also expanding globally and is seeking acquisitions in Europe, the US and India.

“There are three key acquisitions we are looking on and we expect them to be successful and conclude in the first quarter next year,” he said. “If we are successful, revenue next year will be $20bn.”

US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports that were imposed this year, are unlikely to adversely affect the company, although the US is one of its big markets.

“We don’t have any concerns about tariffs,” Mr Dawson said. “Some of the products we export into the US, these products are of such quality and grade, that they are not made in the US. So tariffs are not impacting these products.”

The company is still planning initial public offerings for some of its subsidiaries, depending on the geography and size of these units.

“There may be opportunities for IPOing some individual parts of the business but not as an overall business,” he said.

“We are looking at various options there, depending on which jurisdiction we are in.”

Updated: January 6, 2019 05:29 PM

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